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Heavican Addresses State of the Judiciary 1/19/19  01/21/19 12:21:24 PM Printer Friendly VersionPrinter Friendly Version

Heavican Addresses State of the Judiciary
Chief Justice Mike Heavican gave his 12th annual State of the Judiciary address to the Legislature Thursday night in the Legislative Chamber.
The Chief Justice gives the State of the Judiciary address at the invitation of the Speaker of the Legislature, Senator Jim Scheer. Since 2008 this address has been the judiciary’s opportunity to highlight Judicial Branch priorities for the upcoming year and provide relevant information directly to lawmakers.
Here’s some of the highlights from his address:
Problem-Solving Courts
• In 2018, problem-solving courts served 1,397 inviduals, a 237 percent increase since 2008.
• The total number of such courts have increased 200 percent, including two new Veteran’s Treatment Courts.
• The state saves $35,762 per defendant per year for participation in a problem-solving court over incarceration.
• Budget constraints restrict the expansion of problem-solving courts including proposed mental health courts.
Adult Probation
• At the end of fiscal year 2018, the number of individuals placed on felony probation was up by 39 percent, 12 percent higher than the prediction in 2015.
• The average number of individuals released from prison and local jails under Probation supervision increased to 139 per month in 2018 with a projection to 153 per month in 2019.
• Two re-entry courts were established to assure felons leaving the prison system successfully transition to become productive members of the community.
Juvenile Justice
• Three key areas were addressed in 2018: 1) more local foster care; 2) more in-home services; 3) more alternatives to detention, including access to therapists and evaluations.
• The Administrative Office of Probation and Department of Health and Human Services joined together to train nearly 900 employees on how to better serve young people.
• A new Victim Youth Conferencing program brings together low-risk delinquents and victims, with a trained professional, with an emphasis on reparations for the victim and appropriate rehabilitation
for the offender.
• A $1 million grant was awarded for a three-year period to expand juvenile justice services for interested counties. Participating counties include Buffalo, Dodge, Douglas, Lancaster, Pawnee, Red Willow, Sarpy and Scotts Bluff so far.
Community Engagement Grant for Native American Population
• Nebraska was selected as one of six sites nationally to participate in a project involving Community Engagement in the State Courts.
• State courts will work to: 1) Improve Native Americans’ public trust and confidence in State and Federal Courts; 2) Identify ways to address disparate treatment of Native Americans in the State court system; 3) Improve judicial awareness
and training for the special problems faced by Native American populations in Nebraska; 4) Improve the State and Federal courts’ confidence in, and understanding of, the tribal court system.
Office of Public Guardian
• As of November 1, 2018, that office had 259 open cases with more than 700 identified categories of need involving complex issues like cognitive impairment, mental health diagnosis, developmental disabilities, substance and alcohol abuse, a history of criminal justice involvement and history of Mental Health Board commitments.
• More than 1,294 new guardians and conservators were trained at 102 guardian and conservator education classes through October 31, 2018.
Access to Justice – Language Access
• The Judicial Branch used 117 independent interpreters, collectively speaking 30 languages, to translate court proceedings.
• Some of the languages included Sudanese, Arabic, Somali, Hmong, Tagalog, Karen, Nepali, Nuer and, most commonly, Spanish.
• In 2018, 770,000 documents were filed electronically in county and district courts. Another 4,800 were filed in appellate courts.
• Online trial records were searched nearly 7.5 million times. Appellate records were searched approximately 10,000 times.
• Electronic payment collections topped $9 million in citations, $9.5 million in civil and criminal judgments and $4.7 million in eFiled pleadings.
• Nearly one half of all court transactions take place online.
Other topics covered included court outreach to high schools and colleges across the state of Nebraska along with an upcoming Pandemic Conference in Omaha in May.
– By Antone Oseka
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